A Mid-Century IKEA Hack

I’ve never been quite sure whether IKEA represents the epitome or antithesis of modernism. On one hand it makes functional, well-designed pieces that are accessible to the masses. On the other hand most of those pieces are composed of sawdust, glue and plastic and are highly disposable. Either way you look at it, I think we can all agree on one thing—IKEA is super cheap. It’s great for essentials like wooden hangers, a throw rug, or organizing boxes. But it’s also great for something else—parts.

A few weeks ago I came across this lonely 1960s string lampshade.

ShadeSimilar in appearance to spun acrylic shades, this is actually made of threads stiffened with a clear resin. Whatever twist of fate that allowed this delicate beauty to survive the lamp’s demise had brought it to me to find it a lamp. A very specific lamp with a threaded socket and retaining ring to hold the shade. I searched and searched for a vintage donor but to no avail. Finally, on a trip to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, I found this.


A new IKEA swag lamp with a threaded socket and a crummy plastic shade for $10. Yes. Yes, this could work quite nicely. It’s not vintage, but the simplicity of the hardware seemed a nice balance for the design of the shade. Plus, it was new, so no rewiring necessary.

AfterThe end result is actually pretty great. Both pieces seem to get elevated a great deal. The IKEA fixture ditches that cheap plastic shade and the string shade feels a little more contemporary with the satin nickel metal than the antique brass it probably began its life with.


As it turns out, IKEA is sometimes good for more than just meatballs.

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